Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon has today confirmed that she has granted full planning permission for the North South Electricity Interconnector which will create a 400kv overhead electricity line connecting with the Republic of Ireland.
The applications were previously approved by DfI on 23 January 2018, however following a legal challenge and a court ruling, the two applications to secure NI’s electricity supply were quashed by the Courts and remitted back to the Department for determination.
Minister Mallon said:
“Following the quashing of the previous decision, I have carefully reconsidered the proposal and the up-to-date environmental information and have concluded that planning permission should be granted for the development which remains of strategic importance for our island economy. I have also taken into account the report by the Planning Appeals Commission that included a full consideration of the planning issues and endorsed the significant strategic importance of the development for Northern Ireland and its compliance with planning policy.
“The North South Electricity Interconnector remains crucial to handling growing demand across the electricity transmission systems across the island of Ireland, promoting greater competition within the Single Electricity Market (SEM) for wholesale electricity trading and to protecting security of supply.
“It will also enhance network stability and support the future growth of renewable generation and help support our economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. These economic and system benefits will benefit citizens across our community.”
Notes to editors:
1. Planning applications O/2009/0792/F and O/2013/0214/F were submitted on 15 December 2009 and 30 April 2013 respectively. The applicants are the Systems Operators Northern Ireland (SONI).
2. The applications are for Regionally Significant development under Section 26 of the Planning Act (NI) 2011 and were processed by the Department for Infrastructure’s Strategic Planning Directorate.
3. O/2009/0792 is for the erection of a single circuit 400kV overhead line comprising 102 towers over 34.1kms in length, from Trewmount Road, Moy in the townland of Turleenan to the border with the Republic of Ireland at the townland of Doohat or Crossreagh and a further section of overhead line extending for 0.2kms across the townland of Crossbane. Amendments to existing 275kV line removing one existing 275kV tower and erection of two new 275Kv towers. Connection via a new 400/275kV substation at land to the rear of 152 Trewmount Road.
O/2013/0214/F is for the carrying out of associated works for the main application.
4. There have been in excess of 6000 letters of objection to the original proposal and over 3500 objections since the submission of the consolidated Environmental Statement (ES). Eighty letters of support have been received in relation to the applications.
5. The applications were the subject of a public inquiry before the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) in February 2017 with the applicant and third parties represented. The PAC provided its independent report and recommendation to the Department on 20 November 2017 and recommended that planning permission be granted for both applications, subject to conditions. Subsequently the Department, having considered the findings of the PAC Report issued planning approvals for both applications.
6 The decisions were taken by the Department in the absence of a Minister. Following a legal challenge to the decisions, the Permanent Secretary of DfI in February 2019 decided that it was not in the wider public interest to continue to defend the case. The Department therefore requested that the Court quash the planning approvals on 8 February 2019 and they were remitted back to the Department for redetermination.
7. The Minister’s decision follows careful consideration of the further environmental information submitted by the applicant and her conclusion that the PAC’s independent report of the public inquiry held in February 2017 remains valid. The updated environmental information did not identify any additional environmental effects. The planning conditions attached to the permission take account of the PAC’s considerations, the recently submitted environmental information and a Habitats Regulations Assessment.
8. The PAC report can be found through Public Access on the Planning Portal www.planningni.gov.uk using the reference number O/2009/0792/F or O/2013/0214/F.
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